RUFA Demolition Continues Despite Protesters

With tears in their eyes, about two dozen Royal University of Fine Arts teachers looked on as wor­kers from the Mong Reththy Group continued on Sunday to dismantle university buildings, re­move furniture and uproot trees.

“We are so sorry to see such cruel activity,” said Thann Sin Thou, a RUFA teacher and community leader who has refused to leave her home on the campus, where she has lived for the last 20 years.

“I will not take the small com­pen­sation. But Mong Reththy will owe me for life,” she said.

The Mong Reththy Group was given RUFA’s North Campus land by the government in exchange for building another campus in Rus­­sei Keo district.

The company has offered compensation to families who have homes on the campus. More than 50 families have accepted $4,000 per family and moved from RUFA.

But more than two dozen have not, and remain at RUFA. They plan to gather in front of the mu­ni­cipality today to seek intervention from Phnom Penh Gover­nor Kep Chuktema, according to Phon So­pha, who also has a home on the campus.

On Sunday, Phon Sopha said the demolition was becoming dangerous, with workers clearing cam­pus buildings just meters from residen­ces.

“We are very concerned with our personal safety,” Phon Sopha said. “We are going to look for in­de­pendent lawyers who work for poor people to help us on this matter. We will file a complaint to the court.”

An Pagna, director of RUFA’s cul­tural research department, said the two entrances of the university are to be closed today since exams at the school have been completed.

“We do not want to lose any school property. We need to control the whole campus, so we will not allow anyone to get in or out without permission,” he said.

He added that he would give re­maining families until next Sunday to decide on whether they would ac­­cept the compensation. The com­­pany will then clear the residential homes, he said.

Remaining families are demanding as much as $21,000 in compensation and relocation expenses, Thann Sin Thou said.

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